Abstract / Synopsis
This article makes available some early letters chronicling the relationship between the biologist Joseph H. Woodger and the logician Alfred Tarski. Using twenty-five unpublished letters from Tarski to Woodger preserved in the Woodger Papers at University College, London, I reconstruct their relationship for the period 1935-1950. The scientific aspects of the correspondence concern, among other things, Tarski’s reports on the work he is doing, his interests, and his --- sometimes critical but always well-meaning --- reactions to Woodger’s attempts at axiomatizing and formalizing biology using the system of Principia Mathematica. Perhaps the most interesting letter from a philosophical point of view is a very informative letter on nominalism dated November 21, 1948. But just as fascinating are the personal elements, the dramatic period leading to the second world war, their reaction to the war events, Tarski's anguish for his family stranded back in Poland, the financial worries, and his first reports on life in the East Coast and, as of 1942, at the University of California, Berkeley.
Paolo Mancosu, "Logic and Biology: The Correspondence Between Alfred Tarski and Joseph H. Woodger," Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Volume 11 Issue 2 (July 2021), pages 18-105. DOI: 10.5642/jhummath.202102.04. Available at: https://scholarship.claremont.edu/jhm/vol11/iss2/4